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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

CARIDAD MAGKALAS, G.R. No. 138823

Petitioner, Present:

- versus - PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,

NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, CORONA,

Respondent. CARPIO MORALES*,

AZCUNA, and

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, JJ.

Promulgated:

September 17, 2008

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
petitioner seeks to set aside and annul the Decision1 dated March 10, 1999 as well as the
Order2 dated May 14, 1999 rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City, Branch
124, in Civil Case No. C-16464.

The RTC decision dismissed the complaint for damages with prayer for temporary restraining
order/writ of preliminary injunction filed by herein petitioner against the National Housing
Authority (NHA). The RTC also ordered the NHA to proceed with the demolition of petitioner’s
structure.

The undisputed facts, as found by the RTC, are quoted hereunder:

x x x plaintiff and her predecessors-in-interest have been occupying a lot designated as TAG-77-
0063, Block 1, Barangay 132, located at the corner of 109 Gen. Concepcion and Adelfa Streets,
Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City, for the past 39 years.

On March 26, 1978, P.D. No. 1315 was issued expropriating certain lots at Bagong Barrio, Caloocan
City. In the same Decree, the National Housing Authority (NHA) was named Administrator of the
Bagong Barrio Uban Bliss Project with the former to take possession, contol (sic) and disposition of
the expropriated properties with the power of demolition. During the Census survey of the area, the
structure built by the plaintiff was assigned TAG No. 0063. After conducting studies of the area, the
NHA determined that the area where plaintiff’s structure is located should be classified as an area
center (open space). The Area Center was determined in compliance with the requirement to reserve
30% open space in all types of residential development.
Plaintiff, together with Mr. & Mrs. Josefino Valenton and Mr. & Mrs. Rey Pangilinan, through
counsel, filed an appeal from the decision to designate the area where the plaintiff and the two other
spouses have erected structures, as an Area Center. On January 25, 1985, the NHA, through its
General Manager, sent a letter to the counsel of the plaintiff and the two other previously named
spouses explaining why the area where their structures were erected was designated as the area
center (open space). The said appeal was denied by the NHA. In a letter, dated August 6, 1985, the
NHA sent a Notice of Lot Assignment to plaintiff recognizing the latter as a Censused Owner of a
structure with TAG No. 0063-04 which was identified for relocation.

In the same Notice, the NHA informed plaintiff that per Development Program of Bagong Barrio,
she was being assigned to Lot 77, Block 2, Barangay 132.

On August 23, 1985, plaintiff filed a Complaint for Damages with prayer for the issuance of a
restraining order and writ of Preliminary Injunction against the NHA with the Regional Trial Court
of Caloocan City. This was docketed as Civil Case No. C-12102. The civil case was filed after the
NHA, through Henry Camayo, sent a letter to the plaintiff earlier in the month of August, 1985
directing said plaintiff to vacate the premises and dismantle her structure. In an Order, dated July 23,
1981, this civil case docketed as C-12102 was dismissed with the instruction that the parties exhaust
the administrative remedies available to the plaintiff.

Sometime in March, 1994, plaintiff received a letter, dated March 8, 1994 from Ines Gonzales, the
Office-in-charge of District II-NCR. In said letter, plaintiff was advised that her previous request to
stay put in her house which is located within the area designated as Area Center, was previously
denied per resolution of the NHA which was signed as early as February 21, 1990 by the former
manager of the NHA, Monico Jacob. The plaintiff was told to remove the structure she erected on
the area within 30 days and to transfer her residence to Lot 77, Block 2. It was stressed in said letter
that no Judicial Order was required to remove the plaintiff’s structure pursuant to P.D. No. 1472.

Plaintiff prays that, aside from the issuance of a temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary
injunction, defendants be enjoined from transferring plaintiff’s residential house from its present
location to another lot and/or demolishing the same without judicial order; payment of moral
damages, in the amount of P50,000.00, for the malicious and illegal acts of defendants; and payment
of P50,000.00 as attorney’s fees.

At this juncture, it may not be remiss to state that the two other homeowners, Mr. & Mrs. Josefino
Valenton, and Mr. & Mrs. Rey Pangilinan had already transferred to their allocated lots at Lot 2,
Block 1, and Lot 78, Block 2, respectively.

On March 25, 1994, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against defendants.
After hearing and submission of memoranda, plaintiff’s prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary
injunction was denied in an Order dated April 14, 1994.

The Order denying plaintiff’s prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction was appealed,
by way of Petition for Certiorari, to the Court of Appeals (docketed therein as CA-G.R. No. 33833).
On May 31, 1994, the Court of Appeals, Seventeenth Division, promulgated a Decision denying the
Petition. Plaintiff’s (petitioner herein) motion for reconsideration having been denied in a
Resolution dated July 29, 1994, she appealed to the Supreme Court by way of Petition for Review
on Certiorari. The Supreme Court, through the First Division, issued a Resolution dated October 5,
1994, denying the Petition. An Entry of Judgment on the aforesaid Resolution was made on
December 22, 1994.

Thereafter, pre-trial conference was scheduled on January 9, January 23, February 16, March 22 and
finally on April 25, all in 1996 (an Order dated May 16, 1996 was issued declaring the pre-trial
terminated). During the pre-trial, counsel for plaintiff proposed that the case be decided based on the
memoranda to be submitted by the parties, to which counsel for defendants agreed. Hence, a Motion
for Leave of Court to allow parties to submit memoranda in lieu of trial was filed by the defendants.
Plaintiff filed her comment thereto. After submission of NHA’s Reply and plaintiff’s rejoinder,
reiterating their respective stands, the Court resolved to grant the Motion for Leave. In the same
Order, the parties were directed to submit their respective memoranda within thirty (30) days from
receipt, on the sole issue of whether or not the NHA can lawfully relocate the plaintiff and demolish
plaintiff’s structure.3

On March 10, 1999, the trial court promulgated its assailed decision dismissing petitioner’s
complaint. Petitioner’s subsequent motion for reconsideration was likewise denied by the trial court
in its Order dated May 14, 1999. Hence, this petition for review of the said decision and order of the
RTC.

In the instant petition for review, petitioner raises the following issues:

A. WHETHER OR NOT THE DEMOLITION OR RELOCATION OF THE PETITIONER’S


STRUCTURE WILL VIOLATE THE VESTED RIGHTS OF THE PETITIONER OVER THE
ACQUIRED PROPERTY UNDER THE SOCIAL JUSTICE CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION.

B. WHETHER OR NOT R.A. 7279 IMPLIEDLY REPEALED P.D. 1472 AND P.D. 1315.4

As to the first issue, petitioner maintains that she had acquired a vested right over the property
subject of this case on the ground that she had been in possession of it for forty (40) years already.
Thus, to order her relocation and the demolition of her house will infringe the social justice clause
guaranteed under the Constitution.

Petitioner’s contentions must necessarily fail. The NHA’s authority to order the relocation of
petitioner and the demolition of her property is mandated by Presidential Decree (P.D.) No.
1315.5 Under this Decree, the entire Bagong Barrio in Caloocan City was identified as a blighted
area and was thereby declared expropriated. The properties covered under P.D. No. 1315 included
petitioner’s property. The NHA, as the decree’s designated administrator for the national
government, was empowered to take possession, control and disposition of the expropriated
properties with the power of demolition of their improvements.6 Section 2 of P.D. No. 1315 further
states:

Section 2. The comprehensive development plan shall consider the upgrading of existing dwelling
units, the relocation of qualified squatter families to a resettlement area nearby; and the re-blocking,
re-arrangement and re-alignment of existing dwelling and other structures to allow for the
introduction of basic facilities and services, all in accordance with the provision of national SIR
[Slum Improvement Resettlement] and Metro Manila ZIP [Zonal Improvement Program] Programs.
The Authority [NHA] shall maximize the land use of the area and shall provide for a controlled,
orderly and structured growth of dwellings in an environment provided with adequate sanitary and
other physical facilities. (Words in bracket ours)

Pursuant to Section 2 of P.D. No. 1315, the NHA identified Area 1 where petitioner’s property was
located as part of the Area Center reserved for open space, after studies have shown that the
development of the area will affect only three (3) structures compared to six (6) or more structures
in the other areas. A stage and recreation center was expected to be constructed at the Area Center.
As a result, petitioner was informed by the NHA that she would be relocated to Lot 77, Block 2,
Barangay 132. However, petitioner adamantly refused to vacate the property claiming she had
acquired a vested right over the same. Her refusal to vacate and relocate to her assigned lot had
hampered the development of the entire area. It should be noted that to date, only petitioner had
refused to comply with the NHA directive as the other occupants in Area 1 had already vacated the
premises.
To stress, P.D. No. 1315 explicitly vests the NHA the power to immediately take possession, control
and disposition of the expropriated properties with the power of demolition. Clearly, the NHA, by
force of law, has the authority to order the relocation of petitioner, and the demolition of her
structure in case of her refusal as this is the only way through which the NHA can effectively carry
out the implementation of P.D. No. 1315.

The NHA’s authority to demolish squatters and illegal occupants was further reinforced by P.D. No.
14727 which specifically provides as follows:

SEC. 2. The National Housing Authority shall have the power to summarily eject, without the
necessity of judicial order, any and all squatters’ colonies on government resettlement projects, as
well as any illegal occupants in any homelot, apartment or dwelling unit owned or administered by
it. In the exercise of such power, the National Housing Authority shall have the right and authority
to request the help of the Barangay Chairman and any peace officer in the locality. xxx.(Emphasis
ours)

Inasmuch as petitioner’s property was located in the area identified as an open space by the NHA,
her continued refusal to vacate has rendered illegal her occupancy thereat. Thus, in accordance with
P.D. No. 1472, petitioner could lawfully be ejected even without a judicial order.

Neither can it be successfully argued that petitioner had already acquired a vested right over the
subject property when the NHA recognized her as the censused owner by assigning to her a tag
number (TAG No. 77-0063). We quote with approval the trial court’s pertinent findings on the
matter:

Plaintiff’s structure was one of those found existing during the census/survey of the area, and her
structure was assigned TAG No. 77-0063. While it is true that NHA recognizes plaintiff as the
censused owner of the structure built on the lot, the issuance of the tag number is not a guarantee for
lot allocation. Plaintiff had petitioned the NHA for the award to her of the lot she is occupying.
However, the census, tagging, and plaintiff’s petition, did not vest upon her a legal title to the lot she
was occupying, but a mere expectancy that the lot will be awarded to her. The expectancy did not
ripen into a legal title when the NHA, through Ms. Ines Gonzales, sent a letter dated March 8, 1994
informing her that her petition for the award of the lot was denied. Moreover, the NHA, after the
conduct of studies and consultation with residents, had designated Area 1, where the lot petitioned
by plaintiff is located, as an Area Center.8

A vested right is one that is absolute, complete and unconditional and no obstacle exists to its
exercise. It is immediate and perfect in itself and not dependent upon any contingency. To be vested,
a right must have become a title -- legal or equitable -- to the present or future enjoyment of
property.9

Contrary to petitioner’s position, the issuance of a tag number in her favor did not grant her
irrefutable rights to the subject property. The "tagging of structures" in the Bagong Barrio area was
conducted merely to determine the qualified beneficiaries and bona fide residents within the area. It
did not necessarily signify an assurance that the tagged structure would be awarded to its occupant
as there were locational and physical considerations that must be taken into account, as in fact, the
area where petitioner’s property was located had been classified as Area Center (open space). The
assignment of a tag number was a mere expectant or contingent right and could not have ripened
into a vested right in favor of petitioner. Her possession and occupancy of the said property could
not be characterized as fixed and absolute. As such, petitioner cannot claim that she was deprived of
her vested right when the NHA ordered her relocation to another area.

Petitioner invokes the Social Justice Clause of the Constitution, asserting that a poor and unlettered
urban dweller like her has a right to her property and to a decent living. Thus, her relocation and the
demolition of her house would be violative of her right embodied under Article XIII of the
Constitution, to wit:

Sec. 9. The State shall, by law, and for the common good, undertake, in cooperation with the private
sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at
affordable cost decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban
centers and resettlement areas. It shall also promote adequate employment opportunities to such
citizens. In the implementation of such program the State shall respect the rights of small property
owners. (Underscoring supplied)

Sec. 10. Urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished, except in
accordance with law and in a just and humane manner. (Underscoring supplied)

No resettlement of urban or rural dwellers shall be undertaken without adequate consultation with
them and the communities where they are to be relocated.

Petitioner cannot find solace in the aforequoted Constitutional provisions. Social Justice, as the term
suggests, should be used only to correct an injustice. As the eminent Justice Jose P. Laurel observed,
social justice must be founded on the recognition of the necessity of interdependence among diverse
units of a society and of the protection that should be equally and evenly extended to all groups as a
combined force in our social and economic life, consistent with the fundamental and paramount
objective of the State of promoting the health, comfort, and quiet of all persons, and of bringing
about "the greatest good to the greatest number."10

Moreover, jurisprudence stresses the need to dispense justice with an even hand in every case:

This Court has stressed more than once that social justice – or any justice for that matter – is for the
deserving, whether he be a millionaire in his mansion or a pauper in his hovel. It is true that, in case
of reasonable doubt, we are called upon to tilt the balance in favor of the poor to whom the
Constitution fittingly extends its sympathy and compassion. But never is it justified to give
preference to the poor simply because they are poor, or to reject the rich simply because they are
rich, for justice must always be served for poor and rich alike, according to the mandate of the
law.11 (Underscoring supplied)

Hence, there is a need to weigh and balance the rights and welfare of both contending parties in
every case in accordance with the applicable law, regardless of their situation in life.

In the instant case, the relocation of petitioner and the demolition of her structure were in
accordance with the mandate of P.D. No. 1315 which was enacted primarily to address the housing
problems of the country and to adopt an effective strategy for dealing with slums, squatter areas and
other blighted communities in urban areas. Significantly, the "whereas clause" of P.D. No. 1315
states:

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Philippines mandates that the "State shall establish, maintain
and ensure adequate social services in the field of housing, to guarantee the enjoyment of the people
of a decent standard of living" and directs that "The State shall promote social justice to ensure the
dignity, welfare and security of all the people" xxx.

For sure, the NHA’s order of relocating petitioner to her assigned lot and demolishing her property
on account of her refusal to vacate was consistent with the law’s fundamental objective of
promoting social justice in the manner the will inure to the common good. The petitioner cannot
disregard the lawful action of the NHA which was merely implementing P.D. No. 1315. It is also
worth noting that petitioner’s continued refusal to leave the subject property has hindered the
development of the entire area. Indeed, petitioner cannot invoke the social justice clause at the
expense of the common welfare.
Anent the second issue, petitioner avers that P.D. No. 1315 and P.D. No. 1472 were impliedly
repealed by R.A. No. 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of
1992.12 She contends that while P.D. No. 1315 and P.D. No. 1472 authorized the NHA to eject
without the necessity of a judicial order all squatter colonies in government resettlement projects,
R.A. No. 7279 discouraged such eviction and demolition without a court order. According to
petitioner, R.A. No. 7279, being the later law, impliedly repealed the former laws, i.e. P.D. No. 1315
and P.D. No. 1472, following the legal axiom that when a later law is passed with provisions
contrary to the former law, an implied repeal of the former law takes effect. In particular, petitioner
cites Section 28 of R.A. No. 7279 which provides:

Sec. 28. Eviction and Demolition – Eviction or demolition as a practice shall be discouraged.
Eviction or demolition, however, may be allowed under the following situations:

(a) When persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps,
riverbanks, shorelines, waterways and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and
playgrounds;

(b) When government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented; or

(c) When there is a court order for eviction and demolition.

Petitioner asserts that the afore-quoted provision of R.A. No. 7279 is inconsistent with Section 1 of
P.D. No. 1315 and Section 2 of P.D. No. 1472, which state as follows:

Sec. 1 (P.D. No. 1315) – xxx. The National Housing Authority hereinafter referred to as the
"Authority" is designated administrator for the national government and is authorized to
immediately take possession, control and disposition of the expropriated properties with the power
of demolition of their improvements. xxx.

Sec. 2 (P.D. No. 1472) - The National Housing Authority shall have the power to summarily eject,
without the necessity of judicial order, any and all squatters’ colonies on government resettlement
projects, as well as any illegal occupants in any homelot, apartment or dwelling unit owned or
administered by it. xxx.

From a careful reading of the foregoing provisions, we hold that R.A. No. 7279 does not necessarily
repeal P.D. No. 1315 and P.D. No. 1472 as it does not contain any provision which categorically and
expressly repeals the provisions of P.D. No. 1315 and P.D. No. 1472. Neither could there be an
implied repeal. It is a well-settled rule of statutory construction that repeals by implication are not
favored. The rationale behind the rule is explained as follows:

Repeal of laws should be made clear and expressed. Repeals by implication are not favored as laws
are presumed to be passed with deliberation and full knowledge of all laws existing on the subject.
Such repeals are not favored for a law cannot be deemed repealed unless it is clearly manifest that
the legislature so intended it. The failure to add a specific repealing clause indicates that the intent
was not to repeal any existing law, unless an irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy exist in
the terms of the new and old laws.13

Likewise, in another case, it was held:

Well-settled is the rule that repeals of laws by implication are not favored, and that courts must
generally assume their congruent application. The two laws must be absolutely incompatible, and a
clear finding thereof must surface, before the inference of implied repeal may be drawn. The rule is
expressed in the maxim, interpretare et concordare leqibus est optimus interpretendi, i.e., every
statute must be so interpreted and brought into accord with other laws as to form a uniform system
of jurisprudence. The fundament is that the legislature should be presumed to have known the
existing laws on the subject and not have enacted conflicting statutes. Hence, all doubts must be
resolved against any implied repeal, and all efforts should be exerted in order to harmonize and give
effect to all laws on the subject.14

We find, as the trial court has found, no irreconcilable conflict or repugnancy between Section 28 of
R.A. No. 7279 and P.D. No. 1315 and No. 1472, rather, they can be read together and harmonized to
give effect to their provisions. It should be stressed that Section 28 of R.A. No. 7279 does not totally
and absolutely prohibit eviction and demolition without a judicial order as in fact it provides for
exceptions. Pursuant to established doctrine, the three (3) statutes should be construed in light of the
objective to be achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed by the said laws, and they should
be given such construction as will advance the object, suppress the mischief, and secure the benefits
intended.15 It is worthy to note that the three laws (P.D. No. 1315, P.D. No. 1472 and R.A. No.
7279) have a common objective ─ to address the housing problems of the country by establishing a
comprehensive urban development and housing program for the homeless. For this reason, the need
to harmonize these laws all the more becomes imperative. Hence, in construing the three laws
together, we arrive at a conclusion that demolition and eviction may be validly carried out even
without a judicial order in certain instances, to wit:

(1) when the property involved is an expropriated property in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City
pursuant to Section 1 of P.D. No. 1315,

(2) when there are squatters on government resettlement projects and illegal occupants in any
homelot, apartment or dwelling unit owned or administered by the NHA pursuant to Section 2 of
P.D. No. 1472,

(3) when persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps,
riverbanks, shorelines, waterways and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and
playgrounds, pursuant to Section 28(a) of R.A. No. 7279;

(4) when government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented
pursuant to Section 28(b) of R.A. No. 7279.

It readily appears that R.A. No. 7279 does not foreclose the NHA’s authority to dismantle the house
of petitioner. Besides, under Section 28(b) of R.A. No. 7279, demolition may be carried out when
government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented. Under P.D.
No. 1315, the government has set aside the amount of P40 million for the establishment and
upgrading of housing facilities and services in Bagong Barrio.16Thus, on the ground of a much-
delayed government infrastructure project about to be implemented, the NHA has the authority to
carry out the summary eviction and demolition of petitioner’s structure on the subject lot.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby DENIED. The assailed decision of the Regional
Trial Court in Civil Case No. C-16464 is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Chairperson
RENATO C. CORONA CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice Associate Justice
ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above
Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s
Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

1 Decided by Judge Victoria Isabel A. Paredes; rollo, pp. 37-46.

2 Id., at 47-48.

* Additional Member as per Special Order No. 515.

3 Id., at 37-40.

4 Id., at 9.

5 Entitled,"Providing for the Expropriation of a Landed Estate Registered under TCT No. 70298, 78960, Portion
of 71357, 2017 and 2018 and All Transfer Certificates of Title Derived Therefrom, in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan
City for the Upgrading and the Disposal of Lots Therein to their Present Bonafide Occupants and Other
Qualified Squatter Families and Authorizing the Appropriation of Funds for the Purpose." Approved on March
26, 1978.

6 Section 1, P.D. No. 1315.

7Entitled, "Amending Republic Act Nos. 4852 and 6026 by Providing Additional Guidelines in the Utilization,
Disposition and Administration of All Government Housing and Resettlement Projects." Approved on June 11,
1978.

8 Rollo, p. 41.

9 Boncodin v. National Power Corporation Employees Consolidated Union (NECU), G.R. No. 162716, September
27, 2006, 503 SCRA 611, 626-627.

10 Calalang v. Williams, 70 Phil. 726, 735 (1940).

11 Gelos v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 86186, May 8, 1992, 208 SCRA 608, 616.

12 Approved on March 24, 1992.

13 Secretary of Finance v. Ilarde, G.R. No. 121782, May 9, 2005, 458 SCRA 218, 233.

14 Hagad v. Gozo-Dadole, G.R. No. 108072, December 12, 1995, 251 SCRA 242, 252.

15 Intia, Jr. v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 131529, April 30, 1999, 306 SCRA 593, 609.

16 Section 6, P.D. No. 1315.

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